Benefits of Using Project Management Software
[caption id="attachment_1508" align="aligncenter" width...
We enjoy team work
Updated: September 4th, 2020
In many ways, Trello revolutionized the concept of online collaboration software, with a simple cross-platform system that was easy to learn and use for all kinds of projects. However, by trying to accommodate such a broad range of users, you might feel like it is not tailored to someone who works within a software team, that it is missing some key agile components and the add-ons while useful often do not integrate well with the flow of the app.
That is how I felt working as a project manager myself and it was one of the motivating factors in me deciding to build TaskBlast, a project management platform tailored to small to medium software teams. Let’s look at some of the key features that set TaskBlast apart from Trello.
One of the most popular requests we had was a better way to see a high-level overview of all projects. We loved the challenge and came up with a solution that allows you to manage all your projects in one view. The next time someone catches you off guard and asks how various projects are progressing, you can instantly answer it by loading up this high-level view.
Great things come in small packages and don’t let first appearances fool you. While this gives you a great overview, when you need to you can drill down to analyze those issues that are current and future bottlenecks. Check it out in action below:
TaskBlast – Projects Overview
Projects can quickly blossom into a chaos without some form of organization. One of the most popular methods is using sprints to break the project into manageable chunks. TaskBlast makes this simple but there is nothing simple about figuring out if you are on track or behind schedule, when the project will end and can you trust the current estimates.
With that in mind, we created the Sprint Progress Tab which does just that. TaskBlast analyzes previous data from developers estimates and compares it to their actual time clocked and uses this information to provide more accurate adjusted estimates. This allows you to communicate more realistic expectations to clients and stakeholders.
With Trello, to get this level of detail you might need multiple powerups and additional add-on subscriptions which can get expensive and messy. The video below gives an overview of Sprints and Milestones.
TaskBlast – Sprints and Milestones
Trello does have time tracking but it will require signing up and integration with a 3rd party application. Some are better than others and they generally range from $5-12 per user per month on top of your Trello subscription. TaskBlast has Time Tracking seamlessly integrated into the app, it requires no additional accounts or integrations and it’s free once you have a TaskBlast subscription.
You simply slide open the sidebar, click start tracking on the applicable start and that’s it. You can then edit the time tracked, keep track of your own hours and quickly pause and switch between trackers. Open any task to see who has clocked time on that task. For managers with the assigned credentials, you can view all time clocked grouped by user or grouped by tasks. If you add hourly rates you can view cost by project and on the high-level overview, you can also see the projected costs of the projects. Have a look below for a quick rundown of the simple, free, integrated time tracking features:
TaskBlast – Time Tracking
Like time tracking, Gantt charts are possible with Trello but they often come with an additional cost and steps to integrate. TaskBlast Gantt charts are seamlessly integrated, just switch to the Gantt view for any projects and all the tasks and data are instantly loaded. Gantt charts are self-explanatory, so let us take a look at them in action:
TaskBlast – Gantt Charts
Gantt charts are one way to plan out projects however we have an alternative way that might appeal more to agile organizations. Simply use the familiar Kanban board to drag and drop issues to the relevant lanes such as today, tomorrow, next week or a future date. Like the Gantt chart there is a two-way sync, if you update the due date it will automatically push the task to the relevant lane and by moving it a lane in the schedule view you are also automatically updating the due date.
The lanes are receptive to the date so whatever you move to the tomorrow lane will automatically move to the today lane the next day. You won’t find any powerups or add-ons that do this for Trello. This video explains the concept:
TaskBlast – Lanes on Taskboard
The schedule view can be used for both scheduling all tasks in one or more projects but the My Tasks view under the Schedule View displays all your tasks across all projects. This is a really intuitive way to plan your schedule for the day, week and coming months and if filters out everything else so you can just focus on what is assigned to you.
With Trello it is only possible to do this on one board at a time.
One key thing we focus on at TaskBlast is removing tedious and unimportant tasks that take valuable time from your day. Our next feature does exactly that.
I think we have all been there. You review the backlog today, it is in impeccable shape. One week later people have been tossing in new issues like dirty laundry and your back at square one. Not only that but the issues that were not urgent 4 weeks ago might well be very urgent this week because the due date is much closer but that is something that is easy to miss.
That is where automatic prioritization can help make any product managers job easier. Each attribute is allocated a value, some more than others and issues are then sorted by this value and naturally, the issues that likely need the most attention float to the top.
We analyze multiple attributes including due date, estimated hours, overdue, on hold, awaiting feedback, urgent, blocker, overlooked, unassigned (no update to tickets in x days) and run it through our algorithm to give it a priority score.
The only question left is what you will do with the time that TaskBlast will save you prioritizing and organizing the backlog and Kanban board.
TaskBlast – Prioritisation
The list view gives an alternative way to view your tasks. It also supports showing multiple projects and has the ability to group tasks by user, priority, release version, project and more. It has all the great features of the Kanban such as viewing all important info and the ability to quickly update key attributes directly from the view without needing to open the task in the full editor view.
AI Bots seem to be everywhere these days. We weren’t just jumping on the wagon by creating another one. We wanted to solve a very real problem. When we talked to project managers we found out that the average time spent using project management software on a daily basis was 2-3 hours. When we investigated further the vast majority of that time was spent on 2 areas:
The high-level project overview will drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to give someone a status update on several projects. Updating tasks and following up on issues was really seen as a core duty of a project manager’s day. However, a lot of it can be automated.
One of the most important things that a project manager needs to do is stay on top of issues. As issues approach their due date we need to know if they are still on track and if not what can we do to help get it back on track. We need to know the status of overdue issues, blockers, why nobody has picked up unassigned issues etc.
What TaskBlast’s automated assistant does is it analyzes those issues and automatically contacts the users assigned to the issues and asks for a status update. Let’s take a few examples:
Approaching due date – TaskBlast sends a comment to everyone assigned to the issue 2 days in advance of the due date to ask if everything is on track and if there is anything that might hold it up. This makes you proactive by addressing issues before they become a problem instead of after the bottleneck has already occurred. This type of proactive reach out can make a significant difference to your deadlines.
Another example – tasks with no assigned user. TaskBlast will look for the users with the least tasks on their plate and display a list of unassigned issues and see if they can take any which are suitable. This reduces the time spent following up with various people to see if they can take on a task and unassigned issues will never move so addressing this could again potentially have a very positive effect on your deadlines while also freeing up valuable time for you to work on other important tasks.
The last example would be overlooked issues. Issues that have sat in a lane for more than a few days without any updates. TaskBlast’s assistant would bump any of the assigned users and ask them for an update on why the issue has not been updated in x days. Once again, we are being proactive and addressing issues before they become an issue all while the project manager is off working on the things that really matter and not spending time on tedious tasks.
The concept is simple, identify what issues slowed you down during the sprint/release and put a plan in place to prevent it from happening again. This introduces a continuous cycle of improvement and increases the velocity of the team. The problem is with a large sprint it can take time to review each issue individually to see if there was anything that stood out about that particular issue.
Things that might make an issue a point of discussion might be:
Actual hours clocked 2x or greater than estimate
Issue marked as blocker and not resolved within 48 hours
Issue marked as awaiting feedback was not replied to within 48 hours
Issue was overlooked i.e sitting without updates or moving lane for more than 5 days
Many more examples
What TaskBlast does is check the logic for what should flag an issue for discussion and display it in a view like which again reduces the work of the project manager or scrum master. On the left is the list of flagged issues and on the right is a list of bullet points of actions to implement in future to prevent a similar issue occurring. You can open an issue directly from this view to get more information.
We will provide a pre-configured list of triggers that flag an issue as a potential issue for discussion however you can adjust the triggers to decide yourself what the triggers should be. This gives you much more control over the number and types of issues shown.
TaskBlast – Sprint Reviews
The team view is for managing stand-up meetings but also can be used to get an overview of progress for individual team members.
On the left, you see basic stats on how many tasks the user has completed in the selected period. If you select a user then the right side will display information about that user. They can talk about what they have done since the last meeting, what they plan to do today and what obstacles are in the way of them making progress.
It also will sync with your favorite git tools such as GitHub and BitBucket and extract any recent check-ins as well as displaying what issues you worked on in TaskBlast also. This allows the user to quickly refresh their memory on what they recently worked on and can then fill in the stand-up meeting info based on this.
TaskBlast – Team View
I know I said 10, but I wanted to mention a couple of other cool features that set TaskBlast aside from Trello.
Free Clients – Are you a web development agency, if so on our 6 and 12 month plans we offer free clients, only pay for your team.
Resolve Comments – This feature allows you to hide comments that are no longer relevant. (coming soon)
Clipboard Tool – This is a desktop tool that allows you to copy and paste text or images from an application and blast it directly to the app where it gets converted to a task. Think of all those lost conversations and ideas in Slack and Skype that got lost over the last few months. With this tool that is a thing of the past. Think of all the times you got interrupted before you could get to open your project management tool to record it, no longer an issue by simply copying and blasting with one click.
Email to any project – Every project has a unique email, just cc the project on any relevant correspondence related to the project and it will convert the email into a task automatically to review at your discretion. I know Trello has this option but I wanted to mention it in context to the clipboard tool as they are similar functionality.
Sub-lanes – Other Kanban boards allow you to have lanes but not sub-lanes, this is a great way to break things up within a lane into logical sections like a “testing lane” with sub-lanes: awaiting testing, testing completed & ready for production.
Editor – Copy and paste images inline, no more having to glance up and down to the attachments section to try and figure out what image they are referring to.
Recurring Tasks – Set a task to recur every x days, weeks, months. Have to run a report once a week, set a recurring task and it will appear that same day every week to remind you.
Free Version – TaskBlast is always free for up to 2 users.